The Feeling Begins
First of all, some mood music.
Lord I just want my life to be true
And I just want my heart to be true
And I just want my words to be true
I want my soul to feel brand new
I want to hold hands yeah
Yeah and I want make love
I want to keep running all day and and all night
Even when my mind tells my body that's enough
And I want to stand up yeah and I want to stand tall
If I ever have a son, if I ever have a daughter
I don't want to tell them that I didn't give my all
I just finished reading Jonathan Franzen's first novel, Twenty Seventh City. It's a really wonderful story of political intrigue and personal neurosis, and there's a killer line towards the end from the perspective of a young woman upset with her somewhat pedantic boyfriend: "Suddenly she was living in a new world made for people like him, for people who can despise it and succeed in it anyway."
(man, google books is cool)
In addition to being a well-crafted line in a segment that portrays the ideosyncratic hypocrisy of well-educated/elite criticism of the status quo, this quite effectively captures the essence of my particular angst du jour, that I might end up being more than just middle-class successful — what with my structural hole oriented persona and all — but without actually mattering in the ways I genuinely care about.
See, I'll frequently rattle on about how I'm "ambitious" or that I want to "change the world," but what does that really mean? It means I want more influence. As I develop economically useful skills, and in particular build a highly effective organization around these skills, I've come to realize just how power-acquisitive I actually am. To wit, for the first time in my adult life I'm not in debt, and aside from some class-wariorish vibrations around the edges and the occasional adolescent yen to drive a really fast car, my primary financial interest is in figuring out how to apply this newfound economic capacity towards constructing that proverbial lever big enough to move the world.
Because look, if I'm able to realize my life's goals, by the end of this decade I'll have mouths to feed. That's a real thing that I want to do. No rush, but it's there. In the interim, I've got this opportunity, this liberty to move/spend/risk, and it doesn't make any sense to blow it getting sucked into some kind of rat-race or hamster wheel, even my own groovy alternative-looking one.
The way I see it, the big opportunity isn't in direct opposition to the floundering establishment but rather in the lateral development of alternative mechanisms which outperform the entrenched. I've got nothing but love for kids who want to take it to the streets, but I'd rather spend my energy creating another option than pretending we can tear it all down. My operating assumption is that the cancer-causing global system will keep sputtering along — possibly more lost years, but slow collapse if any for the American Empire — and that we are going to have to deal with that.
While I'll support those with the right temperment for the work, and I sincerely hope for the best from our post-modern aristocracy, who as I see it we're sort of stuck with, I really don't think the idea of an establishment takeover, the long march though the institutions is really my cup of tea. I don't fit the profile.
But that's ok. The way I see it, nothing succeeds like success, and results still matter even in this tragic and corrupted world. My place is in the greenfields and blueskies, coming up with more of the Crazy New Shit. There's maybe more meritocracy out there than it often feels like and I think if I can get some wins, interesting things might start happening.
Really I'm contemplating the whole multiple bottom lines thing. Investing is about returns, but also overall outcomes. A savings account is the worst of both possible worlds, because you get a crap percentage and the Bank gets to play with your money. I am not about to start into a 401k. Alternatives: Move your money, boostrap a project, start a tribe!
The way to cut my personal gordian knot lies in putting enough meat on those bones, enough specific postulates to the general theory, enough stories in the backlog, that it starts to feel more like a really actionable set of objectives, and less like an underdefined nebula of potential. It's the resurrection of the super-project, the thing that goes above, beyond, around and through my normal work.
So the tangible steps here are:
- Finish tinkering with the old website so that it more supports this project from a writing standpoint.
- Start more serious planning/networking with my people about how to leverage our resources.
- Figure out an intake process for new participants.
- Likewise, an outreach process.
- Produce culture.
I'm more than halfway serious. I think the time is now to shoot the moon, because if it don't work out I think I can pretty much always settle down and cruise, and in another five to ten it'll be harder to do anything so uncertain. In brief, I detest the world and intend to succeed on my own terms in a way that's hopefully both enviable and replicable. I want a family, but no picket fence. I want a compound, but not some "back to the land" anachronism. I want a direct line to every center of humanity worth being wired into, and the ability to cross-connect at will.